skyscript.co.uk
home articles forum events
glossary horary quiz consultations links more



SECTION HEADINGS
Early Life and Education
Gravity
Optics and the Royal Society
The Seed is Planted
Principia
Invisible Force
Theology and the word of God
Last of the Magicians
Not Guilty
The future of Newton's Legacy
Notes & References
About the Author
Newton's horoscope







The Principia by Newton. Click here for online reproduction
View online
reproduction






































































































































Robert Hooke



Edmund Halley




Christopher Wren




Flamsteed


































Books at Amazon.co.uk about Sir Isaac Newton:

cover

cover

cover

cover
 

Isaac Newton and the Ocean of Truth, by Sue Toohey



"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
Sir Isaac Newton



Considered to be one of the most outstanding scientists of all time, Isaac Newton has often been portrayed as a materialist who saw the world in absolutes. His prevailing image has been one of a scientist who swept away centuries of ignorance and superstition, giving birth to an era of empirical science in a modern rational world.

However Newton, a passionate seeker of a synthesis of all knowledge, sought a unified theory of the principles of the universe and believed that this synthesis - the prisca sapientia - was once known by humankind. His very purpose throughout his life was to rediscover this ancient wisdom, not only through the areas of mathematics and physics for which he is most remembered but, more importantly for him, through the pursuit of such disciplines as alchemy, chronology, and theology, seeking to include God in everything he investigated.

Ironically, it is Newton's work in physics and mathematics that has often been cited as the rationale behind the refutation of the ancient wisdom about which he was most fervent. One of his greatest achievements, mathematical proof of a heliocentric solar system, continues to be used today as a major argument against the validity of astrology. He is seen as being largely responsible for the development of the scientific enlightenment, which removed the common belief in magic and mysticism. However, it was through immersing himself in these very practices that he was able to achieve extraordinary insight into the once impenetrable mysteries of the cosmos.


Early Life and Education


Born prematurely in Woolsthorpe near Grantham on Christmas Day 1642, [1] Newton was so tiny that he was not expected to survive. He was born into a family of farmers and although his father, who had died three months earlier, was a relatively wealthy man he was completely uneducated.

Newton's childhood was an unhappy one and is considered responsible for his often complex and odious disposition as an adult. When he was three years old his mother remarried. Her new husband, rector of the church of a nearby village, refused to take the young Isaac and he was sent to live with his maternal grandparents. It appears that he did not get on with his grandfather and felt bitterness towards his mother and stepfather. Years later he would confess among his past sins the desire to set alight the house with his mother and stepfather in it. He began living with his mother again, along with his grandmother, a half brother and two half sisters upon the death of his stepfather seven years later.

As a young boy, it was expected that Newton would maintain the family farm. It was considered that he did not need an education and he was consequently removed from school. Nevertheless, it soon became patently clear, whether by accident or design on Newton's part, that he was not cut out for this occupation. Due to the persistence of his uncle, he was finally sent back to Grantham in preparation for his attendance at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Newton began his long and very successful association with Cambridge in May 1661, although by most accounts it seems he did not initially excel in academic studies. Even though his mother was moderately wealthy, she was not prepared to spend money on his schooling. He enrolled as a sizar, a low status student, which required him to perform menial duties for fellows and students of higher rank in order to pay for his education.

The university at that time was still heavily entrenched in Aristotelian tradition and was yet to be influenced by the new philosophies emerging on the Continent. Newton, aware of the influences, spent much of his time studying the works of Descartes, Galileo, Kepler and other innovative thinkers. Becoming familiar with their work, he found many interesting directions to explore and set out to expand on their theories.

Early on in his time at Cambridge, Newton picked up an astrology book at a fair but could not understand the geometry and trigonometry. He took up the study of such authors as Euclid and, in particular, Descartes in order to comprehend the contents of the book. It was at this time that he began to develop an enthusiastic awareness of mathematics.


Gravity


In 1665, Newton was awarded his bachelor's degree. For the next two years, Cambridge University was closed due to an attack of the plague. Newton spent his time at Woolsthorpe formulating many of the ideas from which he would subsequently find fame. It was a time that he would later call his "anno mirabilis".

During this period, Newton continued his private investigation of physics, and began musing on the possibility of universal gravitation. He had agreed with Descartes that a body in circular motion strives to constantly recede from the centre. This added credence to the idea that bodies in motion have their own force. He conceived the force as like a string that holds a ball in a circular course as it is whirls around and around until the whirling becomes so great that the force exceeds the strength of the string and the string snaps sending the ball off into flight. He felt that the force in the string that held the ball on course could be measured. He hypothesised that something held the planets to the Sun and the Moon to the Earth and that this force was measurable.

Newton had read books by Galileo called 'Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems', and 'Discourses Concerning Two New Sciences'. He also knew of Kepler's work on how planets revolve around the Sun. In the early 1600s, Kepler had developed the Laws of Planetary Motion, the first of these laws describing the planets' orbits as elliptical rather than circular.[2] The other two laws are that a planet will vary its speed depending on the stage of its orbit, and the time it takes to complete an orbit will depend upon the planet's distance from the Sun. [3]

Galileo had written his own explanation of how things fell to earth, and had wondered that, if the earth was moving, could we be carried along with it and not be conscious of it's motion. Having read the works of both Kepler and Galileo, Newton connected the two and began to formulate his theories of gravitation.

Like the fall of an apple to the ground, an attraction of the planets to the Sun and the Moon to the Earth caused them to 'fall' towards the Sun or the Earth. But their motion around the Sun and Earth also inclined them towards a tangential course, away from these bodies. Newton believed they held the particular courses they did in a trajectory where the two forces found equilibrium against each other - that is, where the two opposing forces were equal.

Newton found that these forces strengthened as the two attracting forces approached each other or weakened as they moved away from each other in a ratio of the square to their distances. He also noted that the force attracting two objects increased or decreased in a ratio of their combined sizes or mass. In order to make this work, Newton realised that he needed to calculate the force of their trajectories from a point at the centre of planetary bodies - not from their surfaces. Contrary to the Newtonian legend that these ideas sprung fully formed into his mind with the fall of an apple, his ideas underwent a twenty-year gestation period before they emerged as mature and credible theories.


Optics and the Royal Society


In 1669, at the age of 27, Newton was appointed to the position of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. This wasn't the prestigious position that it is now (Stephen Hawking has held it since 1979) but it gave him an increase in income and more opportunity to gain acceptance for his work. He continued in this position for 33 years even after leaving Cambridge for the last time in 1696 to take up a position at the Royal Mint.

A principal area of interest to Newton, and one that increased his standing within the scientific community was optics. Through his work with optics and colours Newton came to believe that refracting telescopes, which were subject to colour interference, were outmoded. His development of the reflecting telescope made his instruments much smaller and was particularly useful for looking at distant bodies, such as Jupiter, that only reflected small amounts of light.

In January 1672, after donating a reflecting telescope, Newton was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. He remained with the Royal Society until his death, becoming its president in 1703. It was in his initial year with the Society that he published his first scientific paper on light and colour in the 'Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.' Although the paper was generally well received, Robert Hooke, a leading power at the Royal Society, believed that optics were his domain and refuted a lot of what Newton had written. He later accused Newton of plagiarism thus instigating a lifelong rivalry between them.


The Seed is Planted


In 1679 Hooke initiated a series of letters on the question of planetary motion. This exchange of letters between Hooke and Newton provided the conceptual link that Newton needed between central attraction and the force falling off with the square of distance. He began to calculate the mathematics of orbits, making several advances to his theories. However, as was his propensity, he did not publish his results at that time, setting the study aside to concentrate on alchemy and theology.

Early in 1684 Edmund Halley, Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke, while meeting in their usual London coffee house, began to deliberate over the intricacies of celestial motion. Hooke, having spoken to Newton about these matters, announced to the others that the attraction between the Sun and the planets decreases in proportion to the square of the distance. Wren, fully aware of Hooke's tendency to exaggerate his claims, challenged him to prove it and offered a prize to anyone able to provide credible evidence. As Wren expected, Hooke was unable to meet this challenge.

Shortly after this meeting, Edmund Halley paid a visit to Newton hoping to find an answer to the puzzle. He asked how the planets would move if there was a force of attraction between bodies that weakened in proportion to the square of the distance. Without hesitation, Newton's responded that it was an ellipse. Surprised by Newton's confidence in his answer, Halley asked how it was that he could know this. Newton explained that he had already calculated it years earlier and, unable to find his calculations, promised to send Halley a new set as soon as possible. This was the impetus that Newton needed to set to work on what is often said to be the most important book ever published in the history of science.


Principia


In his previous research, Newton discovered three laws of motion, the law of gravity being a special case of the second of these laws. Put simply, the laws are:

  1. A body remains in a state of rest or a state of motion unless a force acting upon it compels it to change.

  2. Change occurs in proportion to the force applied and in the same direction.

  3. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

These laws, along with his law of universal gravity,[4] were discussed in the resultant work 'Philosophiae Naturalis Principa Mathematica' ('Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy'). The 'Principia', as it is commonly known, is divided into three books. Book One discusses his laws of motion then proceeds to a series of propositions, theorems and problems. Book Two gives an interesting discussion on how Descartes' use of vortices to explain planetary motion could not be sustained, nor was the vortex theory consistent with Kepler's three planetary rules. Book Three, subtitled the System of the World, and released after the other two books, extends Newton's three laws of motion to the frame of the world. He explains that there is a power of gravity tending to all bodies, proportional to the several quantities of matter that they contain. To demonstrate this theory, he used gravitational attraction to explain a wide range of previously unrelated phenomena including the motion of the planets and their moons, the precession of the equinoxes, the action of the tides and the eccentric orbit of comets.

To test his hypothesis of universal gravitation, Newton had written to Flamsteed to ask if Jupiter had been observed to slow down upon passing Saturn. Flamsteed was surprised by Newton's query and replied that it had indeed been observed and was closely predicted by the calculations Newton had provided. The equations were further confirmed by observing the shape of the earth to be oblate spheroidal,[5] as Newton claimed it should be, rather than prolate spheroidal, as claimed by the Cartesians. These equations were also used by Halley to correctly predict the return of what subsequently became known as Halley's comet.[6]

Newton again experienced difficulties with Hooke. A number of scientists believed that an inverse square law probably applied in the way that Newton said it did but they had not been able to prove that this would produce an elliptical orbit as observed by Johannes Kepler. However, not only did Kepler's laws give Newton ideas about gravity, once he had worked out his gravitational equation, Kepler's laws served to verify that it was valid. When Newton was able to offer this proof, Hooke wanted credit for his part in the discoveries. Newton was so angered by what he saw as Hooke's unjustified claims that he initially refused to release the third book of 'Principa'. He finally relented, but removed all references to Hooke's name throughout the book.


Invisible Force


One of the major difficulties Newton encountered in presenting his ideas to the scientific community was that during the seventeenth century, the idea of an invisible force was anathema to any self-respecting scientist. Having fought so hard to overcome a past history of what they called 'occult forces', scientists were unlikely to embrace any suggestion of an eerie force emanating from celestial bodies.

To use the analogy of the string and the stone, one can see what holds the stone in its orbit. With celestial bodies, however, there was no observable validation of something holding them in position. Newton came to realise that there must be a force that held the planets in orbit around the Sun and the Moon in orbit around the Earth. It was for this reason he came to develop his laws. It has been suggested that Newton's ability to accept an idea that was considered heretical was due to his dedicated attention to alchemy. Margaret Wertheim[7] suggests that it was not insignificant that the only other person to embrace the idea of an invisible celestial force was Kepler, an advocate of astrology. However, John Dee, a sixteenth century astrologer and alchemist, had also proposed a theory that was very similar to Newton's, suggesting an invisible force. Galileo, Descartes, and Leibniz had rejected the idea.

By accepting this work, people were also led to acknowledge a heliocentric view of the universe, even though there was still no verification that the world moved. With Newton's discoveries, the inquisitor's demands of Galileo had not been met. He had been charged with proposing the idea that the world moved and there was still no proof that he had been correct. It wasn't until the nineteenth century that confirmation would be available. However, the heliocentric view that had been championed by Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler finally had a scientific law to make it valid. "In half a dozen symbols, heaven and earth were united, and heliocentrism at long last received a firm mathematical foundation".[8]


Theology and the word of God


When Newton was made a fellow of the College, along with an agreement to embrace the Anglican faith, the Trinity fellowship also required ordination within 8 years. During his studies Newton had come to believe that the central doctrine of the church, the Holy and Undivided Trinity was a pagan corruption imposed on Christianity in the fourth century by Athanasius.[9] Newton was faced with an enormous dilemma. He now felt that, in all consciousness, he could no longer take holy orders. However, to give the reason for this would have led to his immediate expulsion from Cambridge. At that time, and throughout Newton's life, denunciation of the Trinity was illegal. He was by rights a heretic. He sought special dispensation from taking holy orders, something that was eventually granted. It is not clear what reasons he gave for seeking this dispensation but it is unlikely that it was for the genuine reason. In 1710, Newton's successor to the Lucasian Chair, William Whiston, was ejected from his position for advocating Unitarianism, the rejection of the Holy Trinity.[10]

Although these views make Newton a heretic from the perspective of established Christianity, he was in fact a fervent believer in the Bible. Newton's laws of motion contradicted the accepted biblical doctrine in the same way that Galileo's views had. But rather than contradicting the Bible, Newton believed that the Bible was accurate and that it was the interpretation of theologians that was wrong. He continued to study biblical prophecy until his death, being fascinated by its symbols and developing a lexicon of prophetic emblems. He was also intrigued by the architecture of the Jerusalem Temple, believing it to hold the secrets to many unanswered questions of the Bible.

Newton's inspiration for his extensive research on theology was led by a strong conviction that the ancients had possessed true knowledge about God and the world. Surviving extensive notes and ink sketches show that he also looked to biblical and Talmudic sources in order to reconstruct the plan of the Temple. Not only did he believe that the Temple and its ritual would provide answers to Revelations, but he also saw it, along with other temples, as a model of the heliocentric system - knowledge of which the ancients subsequently lost.


Last of the Magicians


Throughout his life, Newton spent more time intensely involved with alchemy than any of his scientific pursuits. Many of his biographers, confronted with what they see as completely divergent writings from Newton, have chosen to gloss over anything that does not fit easily into the image of Newton generally acknowledged. Anything that has not been considered in keeping with his scientific discoveries has often been regarded as misguided.[11] A more authentic picture of Newton, concealed for so long, began to come to light when John Maynard Keyes purchased a collection of papers that had been rejected by Cambridge as having no scientific value. In 1942 Keyes delivered a speech on these papers giving illumination to a very different view of the great man.

"Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind which looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago."[12]


Newton, like most alchemists of the time, believed that alchemic wisdom extended back to ancient times. He believed strongly in the religious and astrological symbolism of alchemy. Most alchemists of the day were adept at astrology, sharing much of the deeper symbolism of the two disciplines, including the connection between the seven metals and the seven planets, as well as the four elements and the four humours. Newton became involved in secretive alchemical networks, devoting time to copying out the unpublished alchemical treatise passed around among them. The ultimate goal of the alchemist was an inner transformation of the psyche. Success depended on the alchemist's state of mind, prayer and meditation being part of the practice. Newton often pleaded with fellow alchemist Robert Boyle to keep silent in publicly discussing alchemy. But, rather than being uncomfortable with his participation in alchemy, it seems that Newton believed that this secret knowledge was not for everyone. He felt that the Hermetic writers of the past had concealed their work for good reason and Newton was prepared to honour this adherence to secrecy.

Extensive discussions have taken place in the past as to whether Newton was an astrologer or whether it was something he rejected. In an unpublished biography by his nephew-in-law John Conduitt, Newton is quoted as saying "I was soon convinced of the vanity and emptiness of the pretended science of judicial astrology." It is unconvincing to perceive this statement as an outright condemnation of astrology. What is more likely is that, in the same vein as Kepler's 'foolish daughter', Newton had little time for what he saw as the trivialities of astrology. Both Kepler and John Dee, known for drawing up the electional chart for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I, were obliged for financial and political reasons to produce almanacs and charts for the wealthy and the general public. Newton, free from all such constraints, was able to concentrate on the deeper symbolism of astrology, particularly as it related to alchemy and chronology. It is reasonable to assume that judicial astrology held no attraction for him for the reason that he believed the answers to the mysteries of the universe lay in the observations of the past, not of the future.

The anecdote most often cited when suggesting that Newton was an astrologer has also been cited as referring to Newton's enthusiasm for theology. The quote was described in a biography of Newton by David Brewster (1781-1868) "When Dr Halley ventured to say anything disrespectful to religion he invariably checked him with the remark 'I have studied these things - you have not'".[13] There is no substantiated evidence suggesting that Newton ever made such a comment about either astrology or theology. If it was said, it is feasible that this remark can be applied equally to astrology and theology. Newton was a man who saw the interconnectedness of all things. Privately at least, he would not have thought to compartmentalise his interests in the way that historians have done. To him, it was all the same and it all came from God. Halley and Newton were friends and, because Halley did not share the same intensity for such matters, he often teased his friend about his research into these areas in a good-natured way whether it was theology, astrology, alchemy or any of Newton's other multifarious interests.

It has often been said that if Newton were an astrologer, he surely would have written extensively about it, as he did with all of his other interests. English historian of science Derek Thomas Whiteside reported that he did not find any reference to astrology among the 50 million words that have been preserved of Newton's writings. However, there are extant writings showing clearly that Newton, while perhaps not a practicing astrologer, was very familiar with the discipline. In his work on chronology, he discussed what he saw as the origins of astrology.

"It may be presumed that they continued to observe the motions of the planets, for they called them after the names of their gods; and Nechepsos or Nicepsos, King of Sais, by the assistance of Petosiris, a priest of Egypt, invented astrology, grounding it upon the aspects of the planets, and the qualities of the men and women to whom they were dedicated."[14]


It is not clear from what sources Newton took this information. Franz Cumont,[15] along with others, writes that the texts bearing the name of Nechepso and Petosiris were written in 150BC, around 500 years after the supposed reign of Nechepso. The writings that bear the names of Nechepso and Petosiris were very popular and were considered to be divine revelations of astrology and Hermeticism. These works do not survive intact, but mostly in excerpts quoted by later astrologers, particularly Dorotheus, Ptolemy, and Valens. They became popular again during the Renaissance with well-known astrologers and alchemists such as John Dee. It is likely that Newton also read these texts, attributing them to the 7th century BC and the beginnings of astrology. Whether or not Newton was correct in his assessment, it shows that he did not reject astrology but saw it as a valid route to the past. It is unlikely that he ever practiced astrology in the sense of drawing up charts and interpreting them. What he did, however, was to take his understanding of astrological principles and apply them to his search for insight into the laws of ancient wisdom.


Not Guilty


It is Newton's work in mathematics and physics, and in particular his proof of the heliocentric universe, which has often been attributed to putting the final nail in the coffin of astrology.[16] Richard Dawkins, who is of the opinion that astrologers' pre-Copernican dabblings demean and cheapen astronomy, saw Isaac Newton as one of the greatest minds that ever lived and sees astrology as an irrational defiance of the Newtonian universe. However, Neil Spencer, in his book 'True As The Stars Above', sees it another way.

"Astrology [is] not the irrationalist, escapist reaction to scientific materialism that its critics claim but part of a shift to a post-Newtonian view of the universe, one with more affinities to Newton's beloved alchemy than to the 'Principia' for which he is celebrated." [17]


Upon reading any of Newton's extensive works, it would be difficult to maintain the claim that he sought answers based purely on the fundamentalist atheism that Dawkins adheres to. Until the late seventeenth century, almost all astronomers were astrologers. Spencer sees that modern astronomy's contempt for its mystically minded ancestor has required an acrobatic rewrite of history, in which the ideas of those of the past have been bowdlerised and suppressed. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of Isaac Newton. When he died on 20 May 1727, those seeking to portray Newton as a rationalist rejected most of his non-scientific works. They remained unknown for over two hundred years.

Newton sought answers in any way he could. All of his writings contain a profound underlying exploration of the deeper significance of the universal truths hidden within the ancient prophecies. It is not Newton's work that has created an image of someone dedicated only to rigid scientific analysis but rather the long history of attempting to obfuscate any work that didn't fit into this image. Prior interpretations of Newton's writing has led us to accept an erroneous image of a man who was far more eclectic in his approach than we have previously understood. It is possible that he would have agreed with modern French alchemist François Trojani who said, 'for all its great usefulness, science is a very limited, very fragmented, and not very profound way of trying to investigate the mysteries of the universe.'[18]


The future of Newton's Legacy


A major turning point in the future of Newton's legacy came with the 1990 publication of Essays of the context, nature and influence of Isaac Newton's theology by James E. Force and Richard H. Popkin. In 1991, the bulk of the Newton manuscripts were released on forty-three reels of microfilm. This allowed a much more cohesive study, perhaps giving for the first time a broader picture of Newton and his works.

One of the main things to come out of this is a respect for Newton's other areas of interest in their own right, rather than as insignificant adjuncts. To make this point, Popkin suggests that the question shouldn't be why one of the world's greatest scientists should have spent so much time thinking and writing about such arcane matters, but why did one of the greatest anti-Trinitarian theologians of the 17th century take time off to write works on natural science.[19] This was said partly tongue in cheek but also to make a point. Why should Newton's theological and alchemical works be considered as less valid than his scientific works? In fact, Newton himself wrote them all with the same purpose in mind - to understand God. He had believed that experiment had a moral object - to learn more about God and how to serve Him. He saw himself not as someone who was a pioneer of the new science but as a restorer of ancient wisdom God had given to humankind. Newton sought to reconcile the Book of Nature with the Book of Scripture. If we look closely enough, we will see evidence of this in all of Newton's work.



Sir Isaac Newton


"And when he reaches early adolescence he must become possessed with an ardent love for truth, like one inspired, neither day nor night may he cease to urge and strain himself in order to learn thoroughly all that has been said by the most illustrious of the Ancients."

Galen (129-199AD), On the Natural Faculties, III, 10


 View Newton's Natal Chart




Notes & References:

  1 ] All exact dates given are using the Julian or Old Style calendar, in use throughout Newton's life. Lois Rodden gives a birth time of 1:38 am, rectified from an approximate time.
Back to text

 
  2 ] At this time, Newton continued to use circular motion in his calculations. It was many years before he accepted that the motion was elliptic in nature rather than circular.
Back to text

 
  3 ] For a full explanation of these laws see David Plant's article on Kepler on this website.
Back to text

 
  4 ] This law states that every particle of matter attracts every other particle with a force varying directly as the product of their masses and inversely as the square of the distance between them.
Back to text

 
  5 ] Oblate is where the poles are slightly flattened or squashed whereas prolate is pointier or egg shaped.
Back to text

 
  6 ] Many years after Newton's death, William Herschel was able to prove that the law of gravity also governed bodies outside the solar system by his observation of binary stars, held together by their bond of mutual attraction.
Back to text

 
  7 ] Margaret Wertheim, Pythagoras' Trousers, Fourth Estate, London, 1997
Back to text

 
  8 ] Ibid p.118
Back to text

 
  9 ] Athanasius (c.297-373) was bishop in Alexandria and one of the main protagonists in disputes concerning the relationship of Jesus to God. Opposing all forms of Arianism, which denied Christ's divinity, Athanasius taught that Christ the Son, and likewise the Holy Spirit, were of the same being as God the Father.
Back to text

 
  10 ] Like Newton, Whiston believed in the potential of physics to enable a correct literal interpretation of the Bible. He set out to show that a comet he had observed could have been responsible for starting the great flood. Using Newton's laws of gravity and motion, he calculated the trajectory of the comet back in time, asserting that it would have been in the right place at the right time to trigger the deluge.
Back to text

 
  11 ] In 1693, Newton had a breakdown. There are several theories as to why this happened including overwork, the breakdown of a significant relationship or a result of poisoning from the metals he worked so closely with in his alchemic pursuits. Many of his writings on alchemy and theology were dismissed as being a result of Newton being 'unbalanced' at the time.
Back to text

 
  12 ] Michael White, Isaac Newton - The Last Sorcerer, Fourth Estate, London, 1997, p3
Back to text

 
  13 ] David Brewster, The Life of Sir Isaac Newton, John Murray, London, 1831.
Back to text

 
  14 ] W. J. Tucker, The Principles of Scientific Astrology, J.B. Lippincott Company, London, 1938, p17.
Back to text

 
  15 ] Franz Cumont, Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans, Kessinger Publishing Co., Montana, USA, 1912
Back to text

 
  16 ] It wasn't so much Newton and the new science that saw the demise of astrology at that time but rather the political and social climate that had arisen years earlier. Following the Restoration there was a push by those in positions of power to move towards a more sober explanation of the universe to be found in mechanical philosophy. The Royal Society, founded in 1660, the same year as the Restoration of the monarchy, upheld the mechanistic view of nature (generally for pragmatic reasons) even though many of its founders and members held very different views in private. People such as John Gadbury and Christopher Wren felt that astrology needed to be scientifically reformed rather than rejected. However, interest in astrology had diminished significantly by this time. See A Century of Reform: Astrology's Rise and Demise in the 17th and 18th century England by Deborah Houlding
Back to text

 
  17 ] Neil Spencer, True as the Stars Above - Adventures in Modern Astrology, Orion, Great Britain, 2000, p 103
Back to text

 
  18 ] Ibid.
Back to text

 
  19 ] Richard H Popkin, "Newton's biblical theology and his theological physics" in Newton's Scientific and Philosophical Legacy, ed. P.B. Scheuer and G Debrock, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1988
Back to text

 





Sue Toohey is an Australian astrologer studying with the Canopus Academy of Astrology. She has a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in history and philosophy and is currently enrolled in a Masters degree, researching the history of astrology and religious thought. Sue also has a Homoeopathy degree, using awareness of all these areas to further her understanding of astrology. Her main areas of interest lie in traditional astrology and philosophy, seeking to understand how they contribute to our current appreciation of these disciplines.



© Sue Toohey, July 2003

http://www.skyscript.co.uk

Biographies
       
Contact Deborah Houlding  | terms and conditions  
All rights on all text and images reserved. Reproduction by any means is not permitted without the express
agreement of Deborah Houlding or in the case of articles by guest astrologers, the copyright owner indictated